Hydration & Caffeine
The Eatwell Guide recommends that we should drink six to eight glasses of fluid a day. Water, lower fat milk and sugar-free drinks including tea and coffee all count.
With this in mind, below is a list of fluids; try to have these as first choice:
- Drink plenty of water – Water is a healthy and cheap choice for quenching your thirst at any time. It has no calories and contains no sugar. Plain tea, fruit tea and coffee (without added sugar) can also be healthy.
- Semi-skimmed, 1% fat or skimmed milk – Milk is a good source of calcium, a mineral that helps build and maintain healthy bones. It also contains proteins, vitamins and minerals.
Aim to limit these drinks or choose sugar-free varieties:
- Caffeinated drinks – Caffeine is a stimulant. Drinks containing caffeine can temporarily make us feel more alert or less drowsy. Drinks that contain high amounts of caffeine include coffee, tea, colas and energy drinks.
- Tea and coffee – It’s fine to drink tea and coffee as part of a balanced diet, but as mentioned above, these drinks are high in caffeine. Consider swapping to decaffienated. If you need to sweeten use a calorie free sweetener rather than sugar. Many people who choose to cut out sugar from their hot drinks soon become accustomed to the taste.
- Juices, smoothies and 5-A-Day – Fruit and vegetable juices and smoothies contain a variety of vitamins that are good for our health. Unsweetened 100% fruit juice, vegetable juice and smoothies can only ever count as a maximum of one portion of your recommended five daily portions of fruit and vegetables. Your combined total of drinks from fruit juice, vegetable juice and smoothies should not be more than 150ml a day as these drinks contain a concentrated amount of sugar.
- Sports drinks – Sports drinks can be useful when you’re taking part in high-level endurance sports and need an energy boost, but are no different from other sugary soft drinks, which means they are high in calories. If you are not exercising intensely, try to avoid these.
Aim to avoid these drinks or have occasionally:
- Fizzy drinks, flavoured waters, and squashes with added sugar – Fizzy drinks, squashes and juice drinks can contain lots of added sugar and very few nutrients, so keep them to a minimum. Flavoured water drinks can also contain a surprisingly large amount of sugar. Also beware of “juice drinks” as these may not have enough fruit in them to count towards your five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
- Energy drinks and those with added caffeine – Energy drinks often contain high levels of caffeine and are often high in sugar (calories).
- Caffeine is a stimulant meaning it can temporarily make you feel more alert or less drowsy and affects some people more than others.
- If you drink caffeinated drinks, aim to limit to 400mg of caffeine a day, that is, up to four cups of instant coffee and drink water as the rest of your fluid intake. However pregnant women should limit their caffeine intake to no more than 200mg a day (2 cups).
- Try fruit or herbal teas as an alternative hot drink.
- Energy drinks are often high in caffeine, other stimulants, additives and sugar, therefore try to limit or cut these down gradually if you drink these. Although caffeine can act as an initial ‘pick me up’ it can make you feel tired later and even disrupt you sleep.
Tips for increasing your intake of water:
- Fill up a large reusable bottle with water every morning and try to finish this by the end of the day
- Infuse your water with a squeeze of fruit or crushed mint.
- If you rely on caffeinated drinks, add up how much you drink and set yourself a target of no more than 4 cups a day (no more than 200mg (~2 cups) a day for pregnant women). Try to replace with herbal or fruit teas.
- Make it a morning ritual. Start your day by drinking a cup of water and also between meals for the rest of day.
- If you drink fruit juice, limit to one glass a day and dilute this with water to make three glasses.
See how much you actually consume compare to how much you should, then set yourself a target.